After yesterdays big win over the Los Angeles Lakers, I got to thinking… Does Cleveland REALLY have a shot at an NBA Title? Can Shaq stay healthy and help us deep in the playoffs? Can Delonte come up big and get mentally right to be as productive as last year? Can Mo Williams keep making shots when we get to post season? Can the team make up ground and get the 1 0r 2 seed? Will Leon Powe be back and be useful off the bench? Will he even play? Will the Cavs make any trades to improve our shot at the Title? And most importantly, can we get some consistent play from the team as a whole?
I wish I had the answers to those questions, but I don’t. I wish I could tell you that Delonte would be back to the form he was in last year soon. Or that he would be okay to play every night. I wish I could tell you that Mo-Will would be knocking down threes all season. Or that Leon Powe will be a blessing off the bench. But I can’t. What I can do, is tell you what the Cavs have shown me, that makes me believe that this year could be the year.
What the Cavs have shown so far in the waning days of 2009 gives me hope for the coming games to start off 2010. 4 convincing road wins, 3 against good/great Western Conference teams. A few close wins, highlighted by some fantastic 4th quarter performances to get back into games. Not to mention once again returning to Home-Court Dominance, being a perfect 5-0 in Cleveland this month (so far), outscoring teams like Phoenix and Chicago by double digits. And despite losses on the road to some very beatable teams (Dallas, Houston, and … I don’t want to admit this but Memphis) have been but minor stumbles in what has been a very encouraging month of December for the city of Cleveland.
The Cavs up-and-down play this season has been troubling at times but with 9 games over the second place Bucks, the Cavs have no pressure and all they have to do is play hard and work through the kinks to get everything straightened out come playoff time. The only question on my mind about the 09-10 Cavs, is do they finally have the right personnel in place to “Win a ring for the King”? 8 of the first 10 names on the depth chart suggest yes. However two names in particular are screaming to be fixed. As I have said many times, I do like Shaq, The Diesel, The Big Witness, The Big Shaqtus, I could go on and on. But I just don’t see him and the rest of the team getting on the right page to get the type of production from him and the players around him that we need. I am not saying trade him, or demanding he get out of town. But I must say that if the Cavs were to make a move to try to win, it would have to be him, and it would have to be now. My only other roster concern is Delonte West. I do not want him to be traded but I would like him to be more involved. I understand that he is not always in the right frame of mind to produce on the court, but we need him out there every night. He is a real spark for the team whenever he plays. I am no psychologist or psychiatrist or anything of the sort, but I do feel that there has to be a way to get him on the floor more than he does. He has played 22/31 games this year. That is not enough for the third most talented player on the team. And in those games he is averaging roughly 21 minutes per game. One peculiar thing about his splits is that on 0 days of rest (as in playing in games on back to back nights) he averages more rebounds, assists and points (noticing a trend?).
Also, in the past I have been openly critical of how Mike Brown manages the playing time for his players (too much for Shaq, too little for Z and Anthony Parker), since I made those statements almost everything has been starting to get fixed up the way I feel it needs to be, Shaqs minutes are going down (slightly), Anthony Parker is playing more (his scoring has gone up slightly since then). The minutes Shaq is losing are going to Anderson Varejao, and not Big Z. Which is good, Varejao is a true gamer, intense for every minute of every game. And I think the Cavs have looked better in the past 10 days or so (6-1 since Dec 15). For the first time this season I have no issue with the way Mike Brown is running the team, and I think things are starting to look up for the Cavs. Hey 2010, here come the Cavs, and we are on a roll.